The Thoughtful Animal

Feeling Stupid Is Important!

One of my scientific heroes, Richard Feynman, explains confusion and stupidity:

Albert Einstein said: “If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called Research.”

If you’re going to be doing research, you better be comfortable with feeling stupid.


  1. #1 madoc
    June 30, 2010

    Feynman and Einstein are pretty good for starters.
    Actually the two greatest puzzles have not been worked out. The origin of the universe and the origin of life are still unknown.

  2. #2 Mike Lisieski
    July 1, 2010

    The PI I work under likes to say that the difference between doctors and scientists is that doctors are trained to always believe that they are right, and scientists are trained to always assume that they are wrong.

    I think she’s too harsh on doctors.

  3. #3 yogi-one
    July 1, 2010

    Felling stupid is important

    Gee…I feel like a VIP!

  4. #4 Chester Burton Brown
    July 1, 2010

    This is critical in all walks of intellectual life, I think. Strenuous physical exercise makes our muscles feel weak, and so too should we be constantly testing our cognitive weaknesses. As in physical fitness, the humbling of feeling limited can be refreshing, and inspire us on to greater goals.

    Yours in stupidity,
    Cheeseburger Brown

  5. #5 bo moore
    July 1, 2010

    We feel stupid because we have a super-inflated opinion of how smart we are.

  6. #6 Alioth
    July 2, 2010

    Check out this opinion piece on the same theme.

    Money quote: “The crucial lesson was that the scope of things I didn’t know wasn’t merely vast; it was, for all practical purposes, infinite. That realization, instead of being discouraging, was liberating. If our ignorance is infinite, the only possible course of action is to muddle through as best we can.”

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